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Wandy Rodriguez Rumors
The Royals have agreed to terms with left-hander Wandy Rodriguez and right-hander Joba Chamberlain on minor league deals, the team announced (via Twitter). Robert Murray of Baseball Essential tweeted yesterday that Rodriguez was joining the Royals. Rodriguez is represented by WMG, while Chamberlain is represented by Excel Sports Management.
Rodriguez, 36, posted a 4.90 ERA over 86 1/3 innings with the Rangers this season before being released by the team a few weeks ago. ERA indicators (4.41 SIERA, 4.30 FIP, 4.35 xFIP) indicate that Rodriguez’s 4.90 ERA is perhaps a bit inflated by his .328 BABIP. The southpaw owned a 3.20 ERA through his first 11 starts with Texas before his performance dipped, lowlighted by a pair of particularly rough outings against the A’s and Yankees (15 ER in a combined five innings).
Though he’ll currently be slated as minor league depth, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see Rodriguez promoted to Kansas City’s rotation. Rodriguez’s modest 1.0 fWAR for 2015 tops every Royals starter except for Johnny Cueto and Edinson Volquez, so the lefty could be an option if the Royals want a change from the inconsistent Yordano Ventura or the struggling Jeremy Guthrie. As MLBTR’s Steve Adams noted at the time of Rodriguez’s release, the Royals had a need for a veteran depth arm given their recent loss of Jason Vargas to Tommy John surgery.
Chamberlain posted a 4.09 ERA, 6.1 K/9 and a 3.00 K/BB rate over 22 bullpen innings for the Tigers this season before he was released in July. He signed a minor league deal with the Blue Jays but opted out on Friday after a brief but rough stint at Triple-A Buffalo. Chamberlain may be little more than a pure depth signing for K.C. given how the Royals already boast perhaps the game’s best bullpen.
Rodriguez, 36, was designated for assignment last week. Though he’s had a pair of disastrous outings over his past six appearances (he allowed eight runs in four innings on June 24 and seven runs in one inning on July 28), Rodriguez has been a serviceable rotation option in Texas for much of the season. Through his first 11 starts this season, Rodriguez worked to a 3.20 ERA with a 50-to-23 K/BB ratio in 64 2/3 innings.
Any team will have the ability to claim Rodriguez off release waivers, although doing so would mean agreeing to pay him any of the additional $1.8MM he can earn via performance incentives. It’s more likely that Rodriguez will clear release waivers and be free to sign with any team for the pro-rated portion of the Major League minimum (for any time spent on the new team’s active roster).
Multiple teams are on the lookout for rotation depth. The Yankees recently lost Michael Pineda to a forearm strain and will be without him for the next month, at least. The Royals lost Jason Vargas to Tommy John surgery shortly before the trade deadline, and the Angels may be without C.J. Wilson for the balance of the season. It’s also possible that a rebuilding team such as the Phillies could just look to Rodriguez as a source of innings every fifth day down the stretch in 2015 as they give their mid- to upper-level arms a bit more time to develop in the minors.
The Rangers announced (via EVP of communications John Blake) that they have designated left-hander Wandy Rodriguez for assignment. Lefty Alex Claudio and righty Jon Edwards were promoted from Triple-A as well, with right-hander Phil Klein being optioned to the minors.
The DFA of Rodriguez is somewhat of a surprise, as the left-hander has been a mostly solid rotation piece for Texas this season and has even been rumored as a potential trade candidate. The DFA, though, certainly doesn’t eliminate the possibility of a trade. It does allow potentially interested parties, though, to show limited interest with the hope that Rodriguez will eventually become a free agent and be available for the league minimum.
The 36-year-old Rodriguez signed a minor league deal with the Braves this winter but didn’t make the team’s rotation in Spring Training despite quality numbers. (That spot went to fellow lefty Eric Stults.) Rodriguez worked to a 3.20 ERA with a 50-to-23 K/BB ratio in 64 2/3 innings over his first 11 starts this year, though he’s recently been hit extremely hard in a pair of outings. Rodriguez has a 9.97 ERA over his past 21 2/3 innings, although the vast majority of that damage came in a pair of brutal outings where he combined for 15 runs in five innings. He’s mixed in a pair of very solid five-inning starts in that time as well.
Overall, Rodriguez has a 4.90 ERA with 7.5 K/9, 3.8 BB/9 and a 41 percent ground-ball rate in 86 1/3 innings this season. He’s never been a hard thrower, but he’s creeping ever closer to the “crafty lefty” territory, as his 2015 heater is averaging just 88.4 mph. Recent meltdowns notwithstanding, Rodriguez has a fairly palatable 4.27 FIP and 4.28 xFIP on the season, so one would think that he could still be a passable back-end starter for a team with a top-heavy rotation.
The latest from Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports…
- Brewers center fielder Carlos Gomez is attracting interest from contenders and non-contenders alike. The Rangers and Indians have reached out, while the Giants and Astros find Gomez appealing. Rosenthal notes that the Giants may not have the prospects required, while the Astros “appear more focused on bullpen help.” Gomez is under contract next year for just $9MM, after which he’ll reach free agency as a 30-year-old. In a June 1st poll, 80% of MLBTR readers said the Brewers should trade Gomez this summer. He would appeal to many teams beyond the four listed by Rosenthal.
- The Rangers are “acting aggressively as both buyers and sellers,” according to Rosenthal. That explains the interest in Gomez and Cole Hamels and their willingness to listen on pitchers Yovani Gallardo and Wandy Rodriguez, who will be free agents after the season. I should note that Colby Lewis will also be a free agent after the season, but he’s chosen to stay with Texas multiple times when given the opportunity to shop around. On Friday, Jeff Wilson of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram had quotes from Rangers GM Jon Daniels about the team’s deadline stance.
- Rosenthal says the Indians are similarly looking at both additions and subtractions this week, “exploring deals for players who could fit for next season and beyond while listening to proposals for their starting pitchers and corner players such as David Murphy and Ryan Raburn.” Shi Davidi of Sportsnet.ca wrote yesterday that the Indians came close to trading pitcher Carlos Carrasco to the Blue Jays, but the deal fell apart for unknown reasons and is no longer on the table.
- The Rangers are expected to trade Shin-Soo Choo this offseason, Rosenthal writes. I imagine that may require some kind of bad contract swap, as Choo recently turned 33, can block deals to ten teams, and is owed $102MM from 2016-20.
- The Padres are shopping second baseman Jedd Gyorko hard, tweets Rosenthal. The 26-year-old signed an extension under the previous Padres regime, and at the deadline he’ll be owed more than $33MM through 2019. MLBTR’s Steve Adams wrote about Gyorko and all the other second base trade candidates last week. Rosenthal suggests the Padres could rid themselves of Gyorko’s contract by attaching him to a more desirable player, pitcher Tyson Ross for example. The Braves employed this tactic in April, pairing Melvin Upton with Craig Kimbrel.
Rumors connecting the Rangers to Phillies ace Cole Hamels have been circulating for months, dating back to Yu Darvish‘s Tommy John surgery. However, a club source tells MLB.com’s T.R. Sullivan that such an acquisition is improbable. “If we were going to do that trade, we would have already done it by now,” said Sullivan’s source. There’s currently “no traction” between the two clubs, Sullivan hears.
Similarly, when asked about the team’s approach to buying or selling at this year’s deadline, GM Jon Daniels told the Fort Worth Star-Telegram’s Jeff Wilson: “…I don’t think you’re going to see us on either extreme end. My mind-set is always wanting to add to the club and always wanting to win, but you’ve got to pay attention to the realities of the standings.”
The Rangers, according to Sullivan, dislike Hamels’ contract as well as the asking price in terms of prospects. Previous reports linking the two sides had noted that Philadelphia covets catching prospect Jorge Alfaro and outfield prospect Nomar Mazara, though Mazara’s stock, in particular, has risen in 2015. The 20-year-old is slashing .285/.361/.446 with 10 homers at Double-A in 2015, despite being quite young for the level. That strong play landed him 34th on Baseball America’s midseason Top 50 prospects list and as high as sixth on Keith Law’s new list a ESPN.com.
Two players who very well could become available, however, are Wandy Rodriguez and Carlos Corporan, Sullivan reports. Texas is open to moving Corporan and pairing Tomas Telis with Robinson Chirinos behind the dish. As for Rodriguez, multiple teams have told the Rangers that they consider the veteran lefty a fallback option if they’re unable to secure other targets in trades.
The fate of Yovani Gallardo, Sullivan writes, will be determined closer to the trade deadline. The Rangers won’t want to move him if they’re still in the hunt for the division title, but poor performances in pre-deadline matchups against the Angels and Astros could cause him to become available.
If Texas performs well in those two intra-division series, however, it does remain possible that Daniels and his staff will make some incremental moves to bolster the roster. Wilson lists a right-handed bat to balance out the lineup (noting that someone of Justin Upton‘s caliber simply is not realistic) as well as another reliable reliever to pair with closer Shawn Tolleson and solid rookie setup man Keone Kela. Daniels himself mentioned earlier this week that the Rangers would pursue such targets.
The Rangers have designated righty Logan Verrett for assignment, Rangers executive VP of communications John Blake announced on Twitter. The move clears roster space for the addition of Wandy Rodriguez.
Verrett was selected in the Rule 5 draft by the Orioles from the Mets, and was later claimed by Texas. He would ultimately be offered back to New York if no other club decides to put in a waiver claim once he hits the wire (as is likely).
The 24-year-old threw nine innings of relief for the Rangers in just four appearances. He struck out three and walked four in that span, and was charged with six earned runs. Verrett had worked as a starter in the minors, always exhibiting outstanding control and progressing quickly through the Mets system.
Here’s the latest from the game’s western divisions on a quiet morning:
- The Rangers will purchase the contract of lefty Wandy Rodriguez in time for him to make a start tomorrow, as Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News reports. Rodriguez will only earn a league minimum salary, but will begin marching towards up to $1.8MM in available incentives with his first appearance. He spent all of camp with the Braves, who released him rather than taking on what would have been a $2MM base salary.
- The Rockies have optioned former starting catcher Wilin Rosario to Triple-A in spite of his hot start in limited action, as Nick Groke of the Denver Post reports. Rosario seemed a plausible trade candidate over the offseason, though he was coming off of a tough 2014 and probably would not have drawn a palatable return. He has been productive at the plate since transitioning out of the regular backstop mix, but was not able to earn much playing time. Rosario was clearly disappointed by the move, though he said he expects it will be short-lived. It is worth noting that Rosario entered the season with 3.023 years on his service clock, meaning that a lengthy minor league stint could deliver an additional year of club control.
- While the Rockies enjoyed a hot start, questionable pitching has dropped the team back to earth. Mark Kiszla of the Denver Post argues that the club has continued to exhibit a “defeatist attitude” in the way that it approaches outside acquisitions. That explains why the team settled for Kyle Kendrick instead of going hard for James Shields, says Kiszla, who disputes the Catch-22 conventional wisdom holding that the Rockies must overpay to get starting pitching but that the team will never again be baited into doing so.
9:04pm: Rodriguez will earn the pro-rated portion of the league minimum upon promotion to the Majors, but his contract also contains up to $1.8MM worth of incentives for games started, reports Jon Heyman of CBS Sports (on Twitter).
7:01pm: The Rangers announced that they’ve signed left-hander Wandy Rodriguez to a Minor League contract. The veteran southpaw will be assigned to Triple-A to begin his Rangers career.
Rodriguez, 36, made a name for himself in the Astros rotation beginning in 2008, and from that season through 2013, he worked to a combined 3.48 ERA with 7.7 K/9 and 2.8 BB/9 in 997 1/3 innings between Houston and Pittsburgh. He was in the mix for a rotation spot with the Braves in March but wasn’t able to lock down a spot despite enjoying an excellent spring. In 23 innings this spring, Rodriguez notched a 3.13 ERA (eight earned runs) on 22 hits and eight walks with 23 strikeouts.
The Rangers’ pitching woes have been well documented, with the most notable blow coming earlier this spring when they learned that ace Yu Darvish required Tommy John surgery. Additionally, former rotation cornerstone Matt Harrison‘s career is in jeopardy after a series of back injuries, and lefty Derek Holland missed much of the 2014 season due to knee troubles. The Rangers are currently relying on a rotation of Yovani Gallardo, Holland, Colby Lewis, Ross Detwiler and Nick Martinez — a questionable group whose ranks could eventually be cracked by a healthy Rodriguez.
Rafael Soriano is talking with multiple teams at the moment but doesn’t appear close to signing, Jon Morosi of FOX Sports reports (on Twitter). Soriano is still looking for a team as Opening Day approaches despite a largely successful season with the Nationals in 2014. Some scouts felt, however, that his stuff deteriorated late in the season, and Soriano did indeed lose his grip on the closer’s role in September. The last team connected to Soriano was the Twins, though team officials have since downplayed their interest. Here’s some more from around baseball…
- The Astros are looking to add another starting pitcher, CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman tweets.
- Also from Heyman, he opines that the recently-released Wandy Rodriguez could be of interest to the Phillies. Rodriguez almost joined the Phils earlier this winter but failed a physical, which led him to sign with the Braves instead.
- While the relationship between Josh Hamilton and the Angels seems strained at best, the two sides “like it or not…are stuck with each other,” ESPN’s Buster Olney writes in his latest Insider-only piece. Hamilton’s big contract, lack of production and off-the-field issues make him virtually impossible to trade, while Hamilton will likely have to accept a reduced role when he returns to the club.
- The Nationals are facing the most pressure of any team in baseball this season, Joel Sherman of the New York Post writes in his rundown of the top 12 teams who have a particularly big need for strong results in 2015.
The Braves released left-hander Wandy Rodriguez today, reports MLB.com’s Mark Bowman (on Twitter). Rodriguez had been competing with fellow southpaw Eric Stults for the final spot in Atlanta’s rotation, so it would seem that Stults has won that battle. Last night’s acquisition of Trevor Cahill limited the remaining rotation slots and seemingly forced the Braves to choose between one of the remaining candidates as opposed to each making the club.
The 36-year-old Rodriguez hoped to lock down a rotation spot with the Braves after missing the majority of the 2013 and 2014 seasons due to a forearm strain and knee surgery, respectively. Rodriguez made a name for himself in the Astros rotation beginning in 2008, and from that season through 2013, he worked to a combined 3.48 ERA with 7.7 K/9 and 2.8 BB/9 in 997 1/3 innings between Houston and Pittsburgh.
Injuries limited Rodriguez to just 26 2/3 innings and a 6.75 ERA last year, but he looked sharp for much of Spring Training with Atlanta. In 23 innings this spring, Rodriguez notched a 3.13 ERA (eight earned runs) on 22 hits and eight walks with 23 strikeouts. It would be difficult to say that Stults, 35, definitively outpitched Rodriguez. Though Stults’ 1.89 ERA was superior, he also struck out just seven hitters in 19 innings of work for the Braves.
Rodriguez was set to earn a $2MM base salary upon making the club, but he’ll now instead hope to latch on with another team seeking some depth in its rotation.